President Issues Message About Campus Safety

Published 02.17.2015

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Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour has responded to a recent online article about campus crime, meeting the "disturbing" and "terribly misleading" headline with accurate statistics, an administrative commitment to student and employee safety, and confidence in the Penn College Police department's proactive enforcement efforts.

Her message, which was also shared via the college's internal myPCT portal, follows:

"A recent article published on the FindTheBest website listed Penn College among the '25 most dangerous colleges' in the nation. The headline is disturbing, and we believe terribly misleading. You deserve to know the details influencing what we believe to be the story’s flawed methodology and conclusions.

"To uncover why Penn College is listed, it helps to know the origin of the crime statistics used in this story. This site uses aggregated data from the Office of Postsecondary Education Campus Safety and Security Statistics. These statistics rely upon alleged violent and nonviolent crime reported to campus and local law-enforcement agencies during the 2012-13 academic year.

"In all of 2012 and 2013, Penn College (both on-campus and on public property adjacent to campus), had no murder or manslaughter offenses, no robberies, no nonforcible sexual offenses and no motor-vehicle thefts. The college did report three forcible sex offenses (sexual assaults), one aggravated assault (for a fight), nine burglaries (items stolen from students’ residence hall rooms) and one arson (a table leg burned with a lighter).

"Visit the website for the Office of Postsecondary Education Campus Safety and Security Statistics, and you can view crime statistics for Penn College.

"Penn College takes all crime seriously. Even this low number of serious crimes on campus is not acceptable; we work daily to educate students about improper and illegal behaviors. We employ 14 full-time police officers, three campus property protection officers and six residence hall security officers. We enforce the law, and we enforce College policy. Our statistics also show that, over that same two-year period, Penn College had:

  • 113 drug violations (almost exclusively involving marijuana)

  • 224 liquor-law violations (mostly for underage drinking)

"The characterization of Penn College as a dangerous college campus by appears to reflect our focus on strict enforcement of minor drug and alcohol violations, which we believe results in fewer serious crimes being committed on campus. We do not apologize for this proactive approach to policing.

"I encourage everyone to visit the Penn College Police website, where you will find a wealth of information about campus safety and security, including an Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, Crime Alerts & Timely Warnings, personal-safety tips, a Silent Witness Form for anonymous reporting of crime, and much more."

Thank you,
Davie Jane Gilmour, Ph.D.